With the annual NCAA March Madness basketball tournament just around the corner, I thought I’d share six (6) tournament tips that can also apply to navigating your business through challenging completion and on your own path to victory! You will become a Champion by following these 6 Tournament Lessons from some of legendary coaches of our time.
- Play with intensity. You only have one shot to win it so you must go all out. That same feeling holds true with operating your business. Are you in it to win it or is it just a hobby? Use your passion, your drive to help you focus and play with the intensity that these college elite know about. What support or reminders do you need to “play with intensity?” I love motivational wisdom on plaques and wall art to inspire me. Dave Meyers who played college basketball with the legendary UCLA coach, John Wooden, said that “Coach Wooden didn’t talk about winning – ever … Winning was not mentioned, ever – only the effort, the preparation, doing what it takes to bring out our best in practice and games. Let winning take care of itself.” So don’t worry about success or talking about winning with your business, focus on playing with that same intensity and passion first and then your business success will come to you!
- Overcoming your fears. Grant Hill (Duke University player from 1990-94 which won two National Championships, 19-year NBA career professional and current TV sports analyst) said this about playing during March Madness, “Obviously you feel all the emotions; there is excitement, maybe a little fear…. The key is, and regardless if you are a defending champion or this is your first time, is to not get caught up in the fanfare and hoopla. I think that is easier said than done. You want to try to keep some kind of normalcy compared to what you would do during the regular season.” Just like a game plan, daily practice, and intense regular season schedules help teams create normalcy and overcome their fears during the big show, the same is true in business. We all have fears but we can’t let those fears get in our way of taking risks and moving forward. We need to create a solid business plan that is followed consistently throughout the year, measured and adjusted on a regular basis based on results, and when used intently it will create a normalcy with your business helping to overcome fears that might stop you from taking the risks needed to take your business to that next level.
- Preparation with adjustments. There is no bigger remedy in winning a game than all the preparation that went into the game. Teams that do all they can to prepare are in the best position to win. There is no doubt that preparation plays a big part in winning, but it’s not the only part. Once the game is underway, unplanned circumstances get in the way. A star forward twists his ankle or gets into foul trouble. What then? A great team and coach, prepares for not only the expected but the unexpected and they adjust. They are confident of this adjustment because they work as a team and have confidence in each other. Be prepared and then be prepared for the unexpected. Have a great team you can count on around you whether you are a solopreneur or a business owner with lots of employees. Build a group of key advisors that with help support creativity and imagination (see #5) to make adjustments along the way. Come prepared and you are ready to handle the changes that will inevitably occur. As Aristotle encourages us all to do, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Create habits and when the unexpected happens, you will be ready.
- Don’t peak too early. Just like the tortoise wins the race, you don’t want to be the hare that peaks too early in the tournament and experiences burnout at the elite eight. Same is true with your business. You are so excited at the start of your journey, putting all your intensity into being successful and overcoming those first 5 year start up challenges that you don’t have the energy left to make it to the next 5 years. Be sure you create an overall strategy for your business, track the progress and don’t look for that quick fix or quick win to get you there. Also, don’t expend too much energy that you burn out along the way. Look for lasting results. Take care of yourself and develop a routine that puts you in the best shape possible. Track progress, make mid-course corrections, and build up your client base a little at a time but focused on doing the right things at the right time. Sustaining your journey is just as important as getting off to a good start. Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese established this concept with her mantra that the “Overtime is our time” phrase. Business ownership is a long race. You want to be in it for the long haul. You want to be at peak performance as you prepare for your transition to retirement. Be the tortoise and put the processes, discipline, and effort for the long haul in place and you will see that “overtime will be your time too!”
- Focus. In the tournament, you should be focused on your next opponent, not on making the final four. If you prepare and focus on the most important task at hand (winning the next game), you will be better able to create a strategy for success toward that one goal. Your goal isn’t too big and unsurmountable. Once you have focused and reach that goal, you look to the next goal (next game). Don’t try to do too many things at once. “One step at a time” is the mantra we encourage our coaching clients to create. By focusing on one task, one item that is right in front of you, you will put your full energy (and intensity) into that task. Don’t dilute it. Don’t look too far ahead. Focus. Pretty soon you will be in the final, winning your bracket and winning the title.
- Imagination. As the legendary Coach K (Krzyzewski) says, “Imagination has a great deal to do with winning.” Since 1980, Coach K has served as the head men’s basketball coach at Duke University and is one of the winningest coaches in college basketball. The same is true in business. Businesses are created through grit, determination and imagination. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time used their imagination to help overcome barriers, exceed expectations, and “think outside the box.” Pushing yourself to think big, be bold and not let the standard be the norm is what great business leaders do. They are visionaries and just like the best in basketball, they must use their imagination to see all the different possibilities that can get them to their destination. Roadblocks get in your way. Defenses cause you to shift. Competition improves. Imagination allows you to see new paths forward and reach the next level of greatness. What mechanisms do you have in place to stretch your imagination and have others push you out of your comfort zone?
As Dickie V (Dick Vitale) would say,” it’s NCAA tournament time baby!” Hope you can apply these tournament tips in helping your business soar to new heights. I’m here to help serve as your coach, to assist you through these challenges and reach the pinnacle of your success.